CH.LXXH LAST YEARS OF NADIR SHAH 361 Furious at being baffled, Nadir fought on desperately; but supplies failed and he was forced to retreat on Derbent, where his shattered army would have starved but for supplies shipped from Astrakhan. As Hanway points out, it was this bitter experience which proved to Nadir Shah the value of a fleet. The Russian Government, alarmed by these operations, despatched a force, which encouraged the Lesghians to petition for Russian protection.1 The Shah, realizing that he had failed and that this failure would raise up a host of enemies whom his supposed invincibility had hitherto kept in check, retired in a sullen and angry mood. The Blinding of Riza Kuli Mirza.—Nadir had marched from the scene of the Meshed festivities to the province of Shirwan by Astrabad and Mazanderan, and while traversing the forests of this province he was assailed by two Afghans. The bullet which one of these men fired grazed his right arm, wounded his hand, and struck his horse in the head. The assassins escaped in the thick brakes. Nadir was led to believe, whether rightly or wrongly, that Riza Kuli Mirza was the insti- gator of the plot. The young Prince was questioned and promised pardon if he confessed, but he asserted his innocence, and upon the close of the Lesghian campaign he was blinded. The character of the Prince closely resembled that of his father ; hearing on one occasion a rumour that Nadir had lost his life in India, he had put Shah Tahmasp to death and had begun to assume the state of a monarch. He was harshly treated by Nadir on his return and cherished deep resentment, and it is at any rate possible that he was guilty. On the other hand, Nadir was exasperated by his failure against the Lesghians and would not hesitate to condemn on mere suspicion. He afterwards undoubtedly regretted his act, and it is stated that he put to death all the spectators of the blind- ing, on the pretext that they should have offered their 1 Hanway, iv. p. 226, gives a translation of the petition, which contains the following passage: " We are determined to hold the golden border of the Empress's imperial robes, and in spite of all the evils that may threaten us, we will not be dragged from them. . . /'